The FDA has recently issued consumer warnings regarding potential liver damage or other serious reactions from taking excessive doses of acetaminophen. The warnings come after the National Institutes of Health has stated, “Acetaminophen overdose is one of the most common poisonings worldwide.”
While the excessive dose warnings apply only to the combination of prescription pain medication (such as Vicodin, Percocet, and Codeine) the FDA has said it will issue another warning regarding over-the-counter medication containing acetaminophen, such as Tylenol. The FDA recommends consumers to “look for the word ‘acetaminophen’ or the letters ‘APAP,’ an abbreviation sometimes used for the drug” in order to protect themselves to the greatest degree.
Consumers who take an excess of the drug and suffer liver damage may still have a claim against the manufacturer, despite the new warning given to the general public. When consumers take a medication as intended, they expect labeling to warn them of potential safety or health hazards. When the company releases a product with damaging side effects—such as liver damage– the public is still ingesting the recommended dosage.
If the prescribed amount causes liver damage, a personal injury has occurred. Here, the FDA is acknowledging that other products containing high levels of acetaminophen, like prescription Codeine, can be mixed with over the counter Tylenol—per its correct dosage instructions—with very harmful results. So even within the prescribed parameters, injury can occur.
When a company fails to meet a safety standard, it is negligent and liable for any resulting injuries. The warning labels serve as a defense to a claim of personal injury; however, the labeling does not become an automatic bar to liability. On the other hand, consumers can contribute to their own injuries by ignoring labels or using medication in unintended (or off-scrip) manners. Again, contributory negligence is a defense and not a complete bar to liability by the drug maker.
If you fear you have been injured by the side effects of a prescription or over –the-counter medication, speak to a product liability attorney in St. Louis to find out your legal rights.